Monday, June 25, 2007

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Intimidation

Last Wednesday a friend of mine was walking from yeshiva in Jerusalem down the street a bit to a seforim store (Jewish religious book store). Now last Wednesday was the day before the planned Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem, which is the antithesis of everything Jerusalem stands for.

Now my friend lives in the Shomron (West Bank), though he is 'charedi' (black hat, long black coat, beard, payos, etc.) As he and his chavrusa (learning partner) are walking down the block, 2 Yassamniks (black-uniformed anonymous riot police trained in breaking heads) step in front of them, shouting "where do you think you are going?", and the one in front grabs my friend's arm.

It's worth mentioning my friend is a former US marine and trained in self defense, though he's got quite a bit of grey in his beard since those days.

He slowing looks at the 'policeman', begins slowly adjusting the position of his arm which reverses the pressure angle (in other words, the policeman's grip is turned back on him), and says to him calmly, "achi (my brother), we're just going down the block to the seforim store, no trouble here." The 'policeman' is beginning to lose control of his grip, screams at him "you're not going anywhere!" and reaches over with his other hand to pull his steel billy club.

My friend calmly, with his other hand, pulls back his long black coat. You'll remember I mentioned he lives in the Shomron, there's a large firearm on his side (perfectly legal and licensed). He looks at the 'policeman' and says, "achi (my brother), are you ready to meet at the beis din lamala (the heavenly court), are you clean?" The 'policeman', seeing the large firearm, freezes and says, "What?".

Slowly and calmly, he says, "Achi (my brother), are you ready to go together to the heavenly beis din? Are you clean and ready right now, because I am. You're not going to hit me with that club for no reason, if you try I'm going to shoot you in the head (the policeman was wearing a vest). Then your partner is going to shoot me. Achi (my brother), shall we go to the beis din shel shamayim together?"

The 'policeman' lowered his arm, looking at the firearm, and asked, "Do all charedim carry guns?" My friend answered, "not all, but some, yes." You could see the look in the policemen's eyes change as they looked around at the neighborhood they were in... He let go of my friends arm and asked, "what do mean am I clean?", at which point they got into a conversation about Teshuva and connecting with Hashem.

They walked away with a handshake, and the policeman with several Torah brochures and a Torah CD in his hand.

The Yassamnikim are trained for violence and intimidation, but every Jewish heart can be reached.

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